Grateful Dead – Truckin’…Drug Reference Week

What in the world ever became of sweet jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn’t the same
Livin’ on reds, vitamin see, and cocaine,
All a friend can say is “ain’t it a shame?”

This wraps up Drug Reference Week. Thanks to all for reading and commenting…I hope you have enjoyed it.

This is the first Grateful Dead song I remember hearing. I heard it before I knew who the Grateful Dead were… the line Busted, down on bourbon street, set up, like a bowlin’ pin stuck with me. The line happened in real life for the band.

Every member of the Dead except Pigpen and Tom Constanten (who left the band immediately after the New Orleans incident) was included in the bust, along with several members of their entourage and some local associates.

Along with the others… Owsley Stanley, then a tech for the band as well as a well-known LSD producer…was arrested.

 

Grateful Dead

All of the 19 people caught in the raid were booked for possession of some combination of marijuana, LSD, barbiturates, amphetamines, or other dangerous non-narcotic drugs. It carried a penalty of 5 to 15 years in prison.

New Orleans police seem to fear that their good town will become the next Haight-Ashbury.

After posting bail money, the Dead were almost out of funds. They added an extra show in New Orleans and persuaded Fleetwood Mac to stay for the additional performance as well.

At the gig, a hat was passed around the audience to collect some additional cash for legal expenses. Most of the charges from the New Orleans bust were eventually dropped…but the Dead got a great sound out of the ordeal!

The song was written by Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter, Phi Lesh, and Bob Weir.

Truckin’ peaked at #64 in the Billboard 100 in 1971.

Jerry Garcia: “They had great fun with us, the southern cops. They had just what they wanted: hippies. Oh, boy.”

 

From Songfacts

The ’60s was a time for traveling and discovering your place in the world. Sometimes what you found was an empty existence that just keeps repeating itself day to day. Having to deal with everyday life when you were always waiting for some kind of revelation to expand your consciousness was often depressing. The Grateful Dead sang of acceptance of banality and the drive to continue their search for epiphany.

One verse in particular: “What in the world ever became of sweet Jane, she lost her sparkle. Well you know she isn’t the same. Living on reds, vitamin C and cocaine? All a friend can say is ain’t it a shame.” seems to refer to the endless desperation that overtakes some people. They turn to drugs to provide meaning in their lives. This of course fails and spirals their lives into deeper depression. Drugs are for enhancing a good time spent with good friends. They cannot provide answers to the meaning of life. The previous verse speaks to commonplace usage and the consequences of accepting illegal activities as a normal part of your life. You often get “busted” by the police. 

Grateful Dead members Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir are the credited writers on this track along with their lyricist Robert Hunter.

The line, “Busted, down on Bourbon Street” refers to an incident on January 31, 1970 when members of the band were arrested in a drug bust that netted 19 people in New Orleans. The group was in town to play two shows at a club called the Warehouse, and the raid happened the morning after their first show at the French Quarter hotel where they were staying. Lesh, Weir and drummer Bill Kreutzmann were all arrested along with crew members and fans of the band who had joined them at the hotel.

The story made the front page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune the next day, and drew national attention, with Rolling Stone running an article on the incident. Owsley Stanley, a Dead associate known for his pioneering work with LSD, was also arrested and labeled the “King of Acid” in the Times-Picayune piece. According to the Rolling Stone article, the band paid for bail and legal fees for all 19 arrested.

Truckin’

Truckin’ got my chips cashed in. keep truckin’, like the do-dah man
Together, more or less in line, just keep truckin’ on.

Arrows of neon and flashing marquees out on main street.
Chicago, new york, detroit and it’s all on the same street.
Your typical city involved in a typical daydream
Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings.

Dallas, got a soft machine; houston, too close to new orleans;
New york’s got the ways and means; but just won’t let you be, oh no.

Most of the cast that you meet on the streets speak of true love,
Most of the time they’re sittin’ and cryin’ at home.
One of these days they know they better get goin’
Out of the door and down on the streets all alone.

Truckin’, like the do-dah man. once told me “you’ve got to play your hand”
Sometimes your cards ain’t worth a dime, if you don’t lay’em down,

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times i can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.

What in the world ever became of sweet jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn’t the same
Livin’ on reds, vitamin see, and cocaine,
All a friend can say is “ain’t it a shame?”

Truckin’, up to buffalo. been thinkin’, you got to mellow slow
Takes time, you pick a place to go, and just keep truckin’ on.

Sittin’ and starin’ out of the hotel window.
Got a tip they’re gonna kick the door in again
I’d like to get some sleep before i travel,
But if you got a warrant, i guess you’re gonna come in.

Busted, down on bourbon street, set up, like a bowlin’ pin.
Knocked down, it get’s to wearin’ thin. they just won’t let you be, oh no.

You’re sick of hangin’ around and you’d like to travel;
Get tired of travelin’ and you want to settle down.
I guess they can’t revoke your soul for tryin’,
Get out of the door and light out and look all around.

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times i can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.

Truckin’, i’m a goin’ home. whoa whoa baby, back where i belong,
Back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin’ on.
Hey now get back truckin’ home.

Grateful Dead – Uncle John’s Band

There are songs like Itchycoo Park, Can’t Find My Way Back Home, and this one that transports me back to a time that I’m too young to remember… but these songs make me feel like I was there.

Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter collaborated on “Uncle John’s Band,” which was originally part of their stage set before they recorded it as a single track from their Workingman’s Dead album. It would go on to become one of their better-known songs

It’s possible that this song is about a string band called the New Lost City Ramblers (NLCR), whose John Cohen was nicknamed “Uncle John.”

For two albums the Dead tried a more roots Americana type of music that may have been inspired by the then-new Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. Personally, they are my favorite albums by them though I do like some others like From The Mars Hotel. 

The song peaked at #69 in the Billboard 100. If you want to read more info on the Dead…go to https://jimadamsauthordotcom.wordpress.com/2020/04/08/g-is-for-grateful-dead/ 

Jim has over 30 Dead concerts in his past.

From Songfacts
The style is a laid-back bluegrass-folk arrangement on acoustic guitar. Vocals are in close harmony in a conscious effort to echo Cosby Stills & Nash – it worked, because CS&N covered it on their 2009 concert circuit.

Lots of Americana to touch on here – this was the first time the epithet “God Damn” had been heard in a Hot 100 hit. A “buckdancer” is “one who dances the buck-and-wing” according to The Dictionary of American Regional English. The phrase “buckdancer’s choice” is both a popular fiddle tune of Appalachia, and the title of a poetry collection by the American poet James Dickey; you’ll recognize him more when we tell you that one of his other works was turned into a little 1972 film called Deliverance.

More Americana: the line “fire and ice” references American poet Robert Frost’s poem of the same name, and the line “Don’t tread on me” is a famous phrase that first came out during the American Revolution from Britain – scope out an image of a yellow flag with a coiled, hissing snake sometime, that’s the “Gadsden flag,” later popular with the American Tea Party political movement. The line “the same story the crow told me” references Johnny Horton’s “The Same Old Tale the Crow Told Me,” which was the B-side to the better-known “Sink the Bismarck.” While that’s a British song, Horton was very much an American rockabilly artist (and he has no relation to the Horton who hears a who).

OK, who is Uncle John? That could be anybody and everybody – fan speculations run wild from the Biblical John the Baptist to Mississippi John Hurt. But maybe, like the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper, it was just an alias made up for fun.

This was one of the Dead’s first attempts to reach beyond their little cult and take a shot at the mainstream. The single release was cut by 25 seconds from the album version. Although this plan didn’t work out with the single scoring a lukewarm #69, the album itself went on to sell well at one million copies – a first for them – and “Uncle John’s Band” became one of their more well-known songs.

Uncle John’s Band

Well the first days are the hardest days, don’t you worry any more
‘Cause when life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door
Think this through with me, let me know your mind
Wo, oh, what I want to know, is are you kind

It’s a buck dancer’s choice my friend; better take my advice
You know all the rules by now and the fire from the ice
Will you come with me? won’t you come with me
Wo, oh, what I want to know, will you come with me

Goddamn, well I declare, have you seen the like
Their wall are built of cannonballs, their motto is don’t tread on me
Come hear uncle John’s band playing to the tide
Come with me, or go alone, he’s come to take his children home

It’s the same story the crow told me; it’s the only one he knows
Like the morning sun you come and like the wind you go
Ain’t no time to hate, barely time to wait
Wo, oh, what I want to know, where does the time go

I live in a silver mine and I call it beggar’s tomb
I got me a violin and I beg you call the tune
Anybody’s choice, I can hear your voice
Wo, oh, what I want to know, how does the song go

Come hear uncle John’s band by the riverside
Got some things to talk about, here beside the rising tide

Come hear uncle John’s band playing to the tide
Come on along, or go alone, he’s come to take his children home
Wo, oh, what I want to know, how does the song go

Jerry Garcia – Sugaree

I remember this song on the radio in the seventies. Probably the first Dead…or close to a Dead song I ever heard. This was off of Jerry Garcia’s first solo album. The song peaked at #94 in the Billboard 100 in 1972.

The Grateful Dead did this live many times…one of my favorite Garcia and Robert Hunter songs.

From Songfacts.

“Sugaree” is the stand-out song from the Garcia album, and it’s kind of confusing where to list it. Warner Bros. Records, at the time, sponsored solo albums by all of the Dead at the time; so along with Garcia, we have Bob Weir’s Ace and Mickey Hart’s Rolling Thunder. On the solo effort side, Garcia played every instrument except the drums on the entire album and did at least half of the writing as well. On the other hand – who are we kidding? – this is Jerry Garcia we’re talking about, and six of the tracks from this album eventually became Grateful Dead concert standards. Oh, heck, call it a Grateful Dead song, Jerry wouldn’t mind.

Speaking of almost-but-not-quite Grateful Dead albums, Jerry’s immediately previous work to this album was New Riders of the Purple Sage, with Mickey Hart, and co-starring Commander Cody (as in Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen) of “Hot Rod Lincoln” fame. Just thought we’d throw it in!

Other albums this song appears on are One from the Vault and Dick’s Picks Volume 3. “Sugaree” was even used in the 1996 promotion sampler A Glimpse of the Vault.

We can’t describe this song much better than the NME, who in 1976 wrote that it “rocks over the dust with the controlled menace of a swaying rattlesnake. By not quite pulling out the stops Garcia leaves the song ambiguity like the dealer with all the best cards, ace high stacked against his chest: ‘If that jubilee don’t come, maybe I’ll meet you on the run. The counterpoint of Robert Hunter’s words and the gentle handling of the coda, Phil Lesh providing simple but effectively raw bass lines, is a high spot demon trump.”

Sugaree

When they come to take you down When they bring that wagon ’round
When they come to call on you and drag your poor body down

[Chorus]
Just one thing I ask of you, just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name, my darling Sugaree
Shake it, shake it sugaree, just don’t tell them that you know me
Shake it, shake it sugaree, just don’t tell them that you know me

You thought you was the cool fool and never could do no wrong
You had everything sewed up tight. How come you lay awake all night long

[Chorus]

Well in spite of all you gained you still had to stand out in the pouring rain
One last voice is calling you and I guess it’s time you go

[Chorus]

Well shake it up now Sugaree, I’ll meet you at the jubilee
And if that jubilee fall through, maybe I’ll meet you on the run

[Chorus]

Deal by Bill Kreutzmann

The book is called Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead.

This book is what you would imagine from the drummer (one of them) of the Grateful Dead. Music, drugs, women, drugs, travels, guns, drugs, death, drink and more drugs. Actually, I really enjoyed the book. He is very open and very honest about his actions good and bad.

He is not a shy guy whatsoever. He shares his feelings about any subject that comes up. He does go into the music and how he feels about his bandmates. Most are positive but he does not hold back.

He covers the complete career of the band. He openly said he was very happy being the only drummer of the band when Mickey Hart quit and didn’t like it one bit when Mickey rejoined the band…at first anyway.

He goes into his relationship with Jerry Garcia. He also admits the guilt the band share in not trying to help Garcia more…but Jerry was his own man. He writes about the so-called keyboard player curse the band had in their career.

He tells us about the 72 European tour, shows they played near the pyramids and the Festival Express. I will say this…this band had fun. They were like a family and treated their employees well for the most part.

The only thing that I wish he would have shared more about was Pigpen. The band was apparently in the dark about how bad Pigpen was doing before he died. Maybe he didn’t share it with them.

I learned a lot about the Dead that I didn’t know about.

The book keeps going at a good pace. With the Dead’s long career he never lacks for stories. A lot of rock autobiographies are coming out and again this one takes the template that Keith Richards made with his book “Life” and fills it in.

Bill Kreutzmann from Deal about Garcia and heroin:

I’m pretty sure Jerry wasn’t into heroin during the making of Garcia; as far I know, he hadn’t even discovered it yet. But when he did, during subsequent Grateful Dead albums, it could become difficult just to get him to show up, unfortunately. That got to be really old, really fast, for all of us. We wanted to play music with him so badly that we’d put up with it, which—in hindsight—was crazy. Nobody else in the band would’ve been able to get away with it; at least, not to the extent that he did. But Jerry Garcia was the exception.
It also opens up a moral question that we can talk about now, but we can never truly answer, since he’s not with us. There was a certain feeling, toward the end, that Jerry was using the Grateful Dead to finance his drug habit. That’s a sad thought. I don’t think he ever intended it to be that way or for it to get to that point or to hurt anyone. He was as pure of a musician as they come. But heroin addiction will change a person in ways that are tragic and discouraging.

 

 

 

The Grateful Dead

I’ve never been a Deadhead but I am envious of them. Unlike any other band…their music and fans belong in a special class. The fans are joined to an elusive club and a lot of them are really close. The band at one time was so accessible… more than any other band I’ve heard of… They have so much music to pick from…years and years of touring and recording. The band not only didn’t mind fans recording their concerts but set up a special place to record for a time. Led Zeppelin’s manager would have his goons smash fan’s recording equipment for doing that…other bands also.

They did not compromise…they did what they wanted to do and forget the rest. Top ten records? Nah…didn’t need them…didn’t have one until the 80s and still outdrew almost everyone. I’m happy they did have the one in the 80s…Touch of Grey…they really didn’t need it but it made the general public take notice. It was great in the 80s to see a cool anti-rock star Jerry Garcia with the Grateful Dead chugging away on MTV sounding better than the spandex idiots on the other videos at the time.

For me, I like their early seventies period a lot. Workingman’s Dead, American Beauty (which are two classic albums) From The Mars Hotel and a little later the adventurous Terrapin Station. I mostly like songs that are condensed down…hence why I was never really big on the long jams but I really respect the musicianship that went into them live. They could be playing folk, bluegrass, jazz and then switch on a dime to rock…and make it fit. To me, it was like a huge bus rolling down the road about to go off the cliff at any moment and then suddenly being jerked back on the road before the crash….sometimes it wasn’t but for the most part, it was pulled back just in time.

When Jerry died in 1995 I was sad. I didn’t know a whole a lot about him or the band…though I had their greatest hits in the early 80s…I knew enough to know someone and something special had gone too soon…I also regretted not being on that bus for a small ride anyway.

Songs I like:

Ripple, A Friend of the Devil, Mr. Charlie, Truckin, Uncle Johns Band (which I could listen on a tape loop for eons and eons), U.S. Blues, New Speedway Boogie, Casey Jones, Attics of My Life, Brokedown Palace, Box of Rain, Sugar Magnolia, Touch of Grey, Hell in a Bucket and a Garcia solo Sugaree…

There are many more I’m not remembering…